By David Bates

It’s been 10 years since the John Howard-led Coalition Government began the implementation of the workplace relations reforms commonly known as ‘WorkChoices’.

After their comprehensive dismantling by Kevin Rudd in 2007 - and subsequent replacement with the Fair Work laws - the ghost of WorkChoices has haunted the Coalition much like the ghost of Julia Gillard haunts Kevin Rudd (and presumably vice versa).

This makes Prime Minister’s Turnbull’s decision to place industrial relations at the front and centre of this year’s federal election campaign truly remarkable.

Despite the fact the building and construction sector is one of this nation’s largest employers – and despite the fact the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption uncovered systemic corruption and thuggery throughout this vital sector of our economy – I doubt very many Australians are kept awake at night by concerns regarding Labor’s consistent refusal to support the reinstatement of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).

Yet it is this issue – the re-establishment of a tough ‘cop on the beat’ to enforce the law and fight corruption and thuggery on Australia’s building sites and in our country’s largest construction businesses – which the Prime Minister is daring the Senate to reject in order to bring about a double dissolution.

So, is the reinstatement of the ABCC really worth all this time, effort, and energy? Should the Coalition really risk fighting an election focussed on workplace relations? And does this issue really matter to you and me?

Yes, yes, and yes.

It is a fundamental principal of our democracy that our laws apply equally to all of us. There are no exceptions based on class, race, gender or any other personal attributes. The law is the law is the law.

Another fundamental principal of our democracy is that all Australians – employers and employees alike – have the right to go about their business free from fear, bullying, harassment and intimidation.

Sadly, neither of these fundamental principles appear to have had any place in the construction sector. There, the laws are routinely flouted and intimidation is rife. Just ask the workers. Or speak to the officials. Or even just read the Royal Commission’s damning report.

The Prime Minister is right to tackle this matter head on.